Sept. 27 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Maria regained hurricane strength on Wednesday, officials said.
The National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. advisory said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and was moving due north at 6 mph. The eye of the tropical storm was about 165 miles east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C.
A Category 4 hurricane when it struck Puerto Rico last week, Maria briefly was reduced to a tropical storm for the first time in 10 days. It regained wind speed as it traveled over the Atlantic Ocean, and now qualifies as a Category 1 hurricane.
“On the forecast track, the center of Maria will pass east of the coast of North Carolina during the next day or so,” the NHC added. The hurricane is expected to turn north-northeast Wednesday and east-northeast, out to sea and away from the United States, by Thursday.
A storm surge warning was issued from Ocracoke Inlet to Cape Hatteras, N.C.
“Large swells generated by Maria are affecting much of the east coast of the United States,” the NHC said.
Wind gusts of up to 55 mph were recorded along the North Carolina shore.
Hurricane Lee formed 1,200 miles to the east of Maria. Although it is a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 mph, it is regarded as a small storm. Its tropical storm-force winds extend only 50 miles from its center, making it one-quarter of the size of Hurricane Maria. Lee is not currently near land and is expected to remain in open water.